NJ residents want offshore windfarm work stopped, poll finds
💨 Residents of NJ favor a halt in offshore windfarm work
💨 There are significant concern about whales and dolphins dying
💨 Democrats are more likely than Republicans to support offshore wind
Proponents of offshore wind farms continue to insist there is no connection between the growing number of dead whales and dolphins washing ashore along the New Jersey coast, and windfarm survey work underway out in the Atlantic Ocean, but many Garden State residents have their doubts.
According to the latest results from a new Fairleigh Dickinson University poll, 39% of New Jersey residents want the development of wind farms off the coast to be halted, while 35% are in favor of the work continuing.
FDU poll director Dan Cassino said the offshore windfarm proposal was controversial even before we had the big spike in whale and dolphin deaths that started last December, but since then it’s become turbo-charged "with opponents of the offshore wind farms really seizing upon those animal deaths as a reason to halt development, at least temporarily, in order to do further analyses."
The debate continues
Wind farm supporters point out there is no scientific proof of a link, however, those who oppose offshore wind survey work being done being say that’s because no studies have been done to see if sonar signal being used by survey ships may be disorienting or scaring whales and dolphins, causing them to collide with vessels at sea.
Cassino said during the survey when dolphin and whale deaths were not mentioned, "we see that there’s a narrow plurality in favor of continuing development, about 42 to 33%, with the people of New Jersey saying we should continue the development of offshore wind."
"Once we mention dolphins and whales in the question we go from being 9 points in favor of having windfarms continue development to 18 points against," he said.
Great concern about sea creatures
He said in the version of the poll that does mention the deaths, only 28% of New Jerseyans say development should continue, with 46% opposing it.
In the coastal counties of Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth, and Ocean, 44% say that development should be halted, with 33% thinking it should continue. Support for the wind farms is highest in the urban core counties of Essex, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex, and Union.
It's become a partisan issue
Cassino noted Democrats are much more likely than Republicans or independents to support the continued development of wind farms.
The poll finds 53% of Democrats say development should be continued, with just 21% saying it should be stopped. Among Republicans, this is almost entirely reversed, with 21% percent supporting the projects, and 62% saying that they should be stopped. Independents are almost exactly in the middle, with 47% in favor of halting wind farm development.
David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at email@example.com
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